Things to look out for in Europe

Football action returns tonight in major European leagues and here is a look at what to expect.

Bayern to narrow gap with Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munich will continue with their chase for top spot when they make the short trip to the WWK Arena to face Augsburg on Friday evening. The Bavarians returned to winning ways last weekend with a victory over Schalke, a result that leaves them within five points of league leaders Dortmund. Augsburg’s defence has been their weak link, and there’s no looking past that here, at least not when Robert Lewandowski is in his current form. We expect the visitors to win here and narrow the gap between them and league leaders Dortmund, who will play next on Monday.

Barcelona to end run of draws

Barcelona are without a win from their last three competitive fixtures but they will be eager to change that when they host Real Valladolid.  They will be strongly expected to get back to winning ways here against a side that is battling against relegation in La Liga. The visitors have lost five of their last eight away days in all competitions, with the two most recent seeing them beaten to nil at Levante and Huesca. Even with some squad rotation, the hosts should have what it takes to reverse the trend of the last couple of weeks and we think they will do just that.

Yussuf Poulsen and Timo Werner’s influnce

Stuttgart will be hoping to bring to an end their run of six consecutive league outings without a win against Leipzig at the Mercedes-Benz-Arena on Saturday. However, that is much easier said than done seeing that they have struggled since the turn of the season. Leipzig for their part are honing in on a return to the UEFA Champions League and they will stop at nothing to achieve that. Yussuf Poulsen and Timo Werner will seek to dominate proceedings as the two have scored 21 of the Red Bulls 38 goals so far this season.

Milan to bank on Piatek

Atalanta will host AC Milan in the Serie A as both sides try as much as possible to edge out each the other from occupying the top four places. The hosts are one of the toughest sides in the Serie A and only Juventus have more points than Atalanta across the last eight Serie A games. AC Milan are equally in form, thanks in part to the contribution of Krzysztof Piatek. The forward has scored four times in his last three games, adding another goal in a 3-0 win over Cagliari last weekend. The visitors will surely look up to him to provide the leadership upfront.

Sporting out to exploit home advantage

Sporting CP have gone through a harrowing few weeks, but can they get their season back on track with a win against Braga. Sporting should be happy by the fact that their opponent’s two losses have come at Porto and Benfica. This points to Braga’s weakness away from home, especially when facing sides with good quality players. Sporting have won nine of their 11 league matches at the José Alvalade Stadium this term, and they have only lost one of their last 11 competitive meetings with Braga at the same venue. The hosts should be able to take advantage of the home support and emerge victorious here.